For the past few years, we’ve been hearing the buzz words, “big data” without having a tangible, concrete answer around it. What is it and what does it actually mean?
With hundreds of millions of devices in people’s hands, and millions of more people coming online every year, there are billions of data points.
The smarter question to ask is, ‘What does big data mean to marketers and advertisers?’ There is a constant quest for understanding target audiences. There are multiple point solutions that try to create a ”digital data-graph” of customers and prospects.
Imagine piles and piles of data that are siloed and don’t actually bridge towards one another. Beyond the imagination, it’s a difficult reality that the digital world grapples with. Marketers need to climb that metaphorical Mt. Everest and get a hawk-eye view from the highest place. But they still need a telescope in hand to zoom down to the minute details of their ecosystem.
But what if there is a foundation to launchpad all of your digital marketing efforts? Yes, there is big data, and it’s only getting bigger and complex. Marketers need a solution that can gather and make sense of their data from critical mass down to individual personas. This requires a Data Management Platform solution. A DMP with cross-channel, cross-platform and cross-attribution capabilities.
Coca-Cola, Nissan, and HBO have taken a giant leap into the virtual world of advertising. Virtual reality can transform the advertisement industry, but the industry itself has to understand the technology before diving head first into the transformation. Virtual advertisement will allow individuals to enter a completely different experience, getting immersed in a very authentic way of viewing ads. “Today social networks are about sharing moments, but tomorrow it will be about sharing experiences.” Virtual reality will give all a sense of presence that they are unable to get from any other advertisement.
The same ads you see on Instagram will now be appearing on your Facebook page. Facebook, who owns Instagram is testing this on Mercedes-Benz, allowing their car ads to target users who follow them on Instagram. Targeting will be extremely precise. “Brands could use Instagram for brand awareness, then Facebook for their direct-response messaging.” The goal is to target individuals based on their information on both Facebook and Instagram, giving them ads from businesses that interest them.
Search is part of a huge platform for driving conversions. The article talks about three different ways to improve a company’s entire marketing efforts through search perspectives. The first being to listen carefully as to provide the user with a better experience. The second is to review your brand’s trending techniques frequently. Finally, the third is experimenting with Google AdWord search.
The female dominated site, Pinterest, just hired David Rubin as their new head of brand. This was a bit of a curveball because Pinterest is predominantly used by females and at his last job, Rubin worked with Axe. However, Pinterest hired David in order to expand their reach to men as well. “This is a fantastic brand already,” Rubin said. “My job is to help unlock that for more people, more often.”
Foursquare is in the middle of a huge rebrand. It is getting rid of one of its main features, the check-in. In addition, they are also changing their logo and creating a new typeface. The problem they face with this is not upsetting their loyal users. They are trying to make the user experience more personalized. They have approximately 10.3 million users.
Google is notorious for getting big name brands to sign on for their promise of better click-throughs. Google has it easy with blurring the lines between organic and paid search. Mike Capsambelis, the Product Manager at Google Shopping wrote, “We believe these ratings will help differentiate products across google.com and google.com/shopping and will help merchants drive more qualified traffic through Product Listing Ads.” the product ratings willl begin to appear across Google Search homepage, as well as Google.com/shopping portal.
With advertising, it is all about survival of the fittest. Advertisers must adapt to digital marketing or they will get left behind. Digital has surpassed T.V. with the amount of time users spend on it per day. Four aspects of digital advertising that advertisers must utilize are IAB Rising Star Ad Units, Native advertising, Big Data, and Programmatic. With the use of digital, companies can now pinpoint the customers they would like to reach out to.
Despite advances in targeting, Facebook has been revamping algorithms and working toward weeding out irrelevant advertising on individuals’ NewsFeeds in order to make for a more seamless user experience. First, they will need to revamp their technology, which will allow them to understand which advertisements users actually enjoy seeing. Next, advertisers will have to find a way to make it seem like users are not getting ads only for selling purposes.
Users are now more demanding than ever before. They want the information, and they want it as fast as possible. “We’ve found one of the biggest barriers to delivering an integrated digital customer strategy has less to do with the technologies deployed, and more with aligning executives and employees around a single, shared vision.” The article states that the best relationship to have is between the CMO and the CIO, due to the significant amounts of technology marketing is spending in their expenses. In order for marketers to produce the best results for excellence, they need the best possible technology from IT.
Yahoo! Mobile and video platform took off in ad revenue this quarter, and it only looks like it will get better in the future. “During the quarter, search ad revenues (ex-TAC) grew by 6% year over year to $428 million.” What was disapointing was the display ad revenue, which declined 7% in the past year. Mobile growth is continuing to grow, as the user base will consume much more content across Yahoo’s website. On the video side, the company has intesified its efforts to enter the online video space.
Romania has officially made it on the top ten in European online digital ad spend. The article states, “online advertising grew by 11.9 percent to a market value of EUR 27.3 billion in 2013.” Other top countries were Italy, Russia, Turkey, Slovakia, the UK, Hungary, Austria, Norway, and Serbia. These country’s online advertising grew incredibly in 2013 across all platforms.
What happens when you put together an outspoken CEO of a leading digital marketing technology company with equally outspoken industry luminaries and delve into the latest trend and issues? You get Digital Marketing Speaks – IgnitionOne’s new video series.
IgnitionOne CEO, Will Margiloff, starts off the series speaking with Rob Norman, Chief Digital Officer at GroupM. In the first episode Will and Rob discuss building technology and dealing with big data.
Should agencies build their own tech? Should they leverage best external technology? How do these things integrate? How do you handle and apply the data involved?
Watch the video and learn more.
Keep tuned for more pieces of this interview in the coming weeks, as well as other interviews. You can also find this and other videos on IgnitionOne’s YouTube channel
Privacy, in the ubiquity of the online world, has been a hot topic for the last few years. Big data, data access and analysis have been trending topics and key subjects in multiple seminars, featured articles and studies. The concept of a new Generation Gap has emerged in light of these developing privacy concerns.
Teens and Their Online Privacy Today
It would be all too easy to say teens and their parents are miles apart in their view of online privacy. In fact, a recent study by the Pew Internet & American Life Project and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society show the contrary. Child and parental views on privacy are actually closely aligned.
On the other hand, the world and our online behavior are changing. Compared to the 2006 version of this study, teens are sharing an increasing number of personal information and details on social and other online media:
91% post a photo of themselves, up from 79% in 2006
71% post the city or town where they live, up from 61%
53% post their email address, up from 29%
20% post their cell phone number, up from 2%
We see two main reasons why adolescents are displaying this behavior:
First is a neuropsychological one. Many scientific tests and studies have supported the inclination of teens towards “risky behavior”. Theirs is a different mindset compared to their teenage counterparts seven years ago because the Internet has become a more normal and integral part of everyday life.
Reason number two has a completely different origin. The study shows teenagers are highly confident in their ability to manage their privacy settings across all social and data driven media. It’s clear that this comfort zone is a key driver for not having second thoughts when posting, liking, sharing, etc.
Introducing the Generation Gap 4.0
Still the question remains how this online behavior of teens results in a new Generation Gap.
The access of third parties is the major difference between youth and adults. In the aforementioned survey, a staggering 81% of parents expressed a clear concern over advertisers’ access to information about their child’s online behavior. How is this so different from the views their children have?
When asked the same question, 60% of teens replied they are only slightly or not at all concerned with advertiser access to the information they share online beyond their knowledge or consent. There were even replies such as ‘I don’t believe that [Facebook] would do anything with my information.’ Maybe teens still see social media as the philanthropic and romantic hang out. This is a stark contrast to their parents’ mindsets, hence the Generation Gap.
Why Would We Call It a 4.0 Gap?
This data and privacy issue is hugely connected to ubiquity of the web. Where we talked about Web 1.0 and 2.0 in the past, new ways of thinking about the web are gaining momentum. Web 4.0 is about making connections, about serendipity and about the network taking initiative.
A very live example of what Web 4.0 would look like: I’m late for a dinner. My smartphone knows this (because it has my calendar, my location, and the traffic status). So, it tells me, and then it alerts the people who are waiting for me, without me taking any action.
Crazy future gimmicks, you say? Don’t forget… the world is changing.
A Belgian app builder living in NY just raised 1,7 million Euros for a Web 4.0 calendar app startup. Sunrise consolidates all your personal and professional meetings in one single calendar, whether they are coming from Facebook, LinkedIn, Outlook, Google Calendar or EventBrite. So when heading to a meeting, the app may push information on the person with whom you are meeting. Or even better, it lets you know if you need to leave earlier for the meeting if you want to get there on time, based on live traffic, weather and GPS data. And this is just one example.
As you see, web 4.0 is very near upon us.
Thus the 4.0 Privacy Paradigm and Generation Gap
This is the true paradigm on privacy. The older generations are shielding their privacy and personal information from the big bad online world. On the other hand, teens have grown up in this new, always connected online world. They are embracing its new possibilities and the privacy implications that come with it.
Yesterday the world changed. Today the world is changing.
When I started as an account coordinator three years ago, I had no knowledge or experience in digital media. Being the new guy can often be a hindrance, but my fresh perspective was actually my biggest advantage. Digital media is not the industry for those who dislike change. Change must be embraced, understood, and implemented at the quickest pace possible to stay on top of clients’ needs and run a successful business. Three years ago, I had never heard the term Big Data. Today, it is one of the more common digital media buzzwords being thrown around by marketers and advertisers alike. The implications of Big Data are large, but the rewards are even greater. The most interesting factor of it all is that most companies and experienced employees are not even trained to leverage their data.
Perhaps the most encouraging research I came upon while learning more about Big Data were the number of job opportunities that will become available in the next decade. Having graduated college three years ago, pressure to find a job was extremely high during our economic recession. I personally decided to pursue opportunities in the digital media industry because of the guaranteed growth in the sector. Current students or recent graduates should know it is estimated that 140,000 deep analytical positions will need to be filled to answer the questions of Big Data across several industries. Furthermore, 1.5 million data manager/analytics positions will become available and currently, demand is high and supply is low.
The first step for advertisers after data collection begins is to create models to interpret data in ways that can help influence business. Advertisers should start backwards, defining a business goal or mission, and then find data to support their hypothesis. Trying to create a new and universal platform that can answer all questions will likely be impossible without some practice in working with datasets beforehand. Digital advisors, such as IgnitionOne, can help advertisers shape the story they are looking to tell. It is the advertiser’s responsibility to request this help from their media resources so that a plan can be set forward together to answer the most important questions with the biggest implications first.
Roger Barnette, President of IgnitionOne, has stated that approaching the chaos of Big Data in the digital space is best achieved when defining goals first and getting down to user-level data. Understanding full attribution paths, how media affects engagement, and how users interact with an advertiser’s site are key focus points for IgnitionOne’s clients. In the end, our primary goal as media advisors is to deliver the best possible ads to the right consumers at the right time. Without prior data to examine, a lot of these decisions may be assumption based.
It is incredible to note that 92% of the world’s data was created in the last two years alone. For this reason, “most advertisers are sitting on top of an untapped treasure trove of audience data – they just haven’t had the tools necessary to take advantage of it.” This unharnessed data is a missed opportunity to leveraging actionable insights into increased revenue.
At IgnitionOne, we prefer to use the hard data facts, rather than anecdotal “patterns.” Our role as digital media advisors is to best service clients on their online marketing needs. The more actionable data we have to work with and examine, the better we can do our jobs, and meet the goals that our clients count on us to achieve.
It took some time for the baseball world to accept the forward thinking Bill James. His work in advanced statistics, now known as sabermetrics, attempts to quantify all aspects of baseball to determine why teams win and lose. James’ approach has been highly contested since the late 70’s, but is now becoming widely accepted as a stat revolution in baseball.
My curiosity with Search Engine Marketing (SEM) grew with the acceptance and advancement of sabermetrics in Major League Baseball in the early 2000’s. The similarities between SEM and baseball seemed quite natural to me and easy to correlate. You have a batter and a pitcher, similarly representative of your ad and a consumer. At-bats are impressions, hits are clicks, home runs are conversions and so forth. Slightly more quantifiable stats in baseball, such as Batting Average, Slugging Percentage and On Base Percentage equate very similarly to CTR, Revenue-Per-Keyword and Average Order Value for any given keyword.
The age of “big data” for marketers had me convinced there are new sabremetrics yet to be discovered or written for search which would provide a tactical advantage for my clients in the search auction. The logical correlation seemed obvious and as with baseball, sabremetrics could help smaller advertisers/ ball clubs compete against the large advertisers/ big market clubs as many of us enjoyed in “Moneyball.”
So I began hurling ideas at the whiteboard in the spirit of Old Hoss Radbourn and his 60 win season (minus the alcoholism and shooting out his own eye) – positives, negatives, extrapolating new stats, correlating stats by macro and micro trends and the findings were quite astonishing… as well as completely inconclusive.
Although it seems SEM is poised to enter the age of advertising sabermetrics, it quickly became more complicated than it was at first glance. The issue lies at the root of aggregating data, as with individual players. An individual player will average between 450-600 at-bats per season based upon games played and order in the lineup; however there is no change in competition besides the pitcher. Keywords, on the other hand, may have millions of impressions and in very different market conditions and at different ranks over a short period of time. Factors such as day parting, budget management, geo-targeting, seasonality, competition and current bidding algorithms make the environment too variable to quantify additional metrics beyond our current capacity. Although it would be easy to assume in the age of big data someone could ‘Moneyball’ the SEM space, it doesn’t appear likely. Actually, it appears nearly impossible.
By this point you are probably asking, “So what is the right approach and aren’t you going to share something insightful?” The answer almost appears too simple, considering the complexity of the issue, but it is as basic as implementing strategic, statistical, and active management.
Bid management needs an active eye – a daily glance ensuring you adapt to ongoing market changes. This means multiple rounds of bid optimizations at different points during the week. The statistical layer includes identifying a KPI (Key Performance Indicator) and leveraging the keywords driving your KPIs. The final, strategic layer comprises a variety of external market conditions such as seasonality, inventory and actualized return around various KPI’s to ensure you are maximizing actions for your given budget.
Sabermetrics may have changed the way GMs manage baseball teams and is even impacting other industries, but ad tech won’t be joining the party any time soon. Instead, we should embrace the fact that our industry only rewards those who actively participate in bid management, and those who succeed will earn their way to the top.
IgnitionOne’s Solution to Bid Management
Although developing new sabermetrics for search may not be a feasible solution, there are other technological approaches to addressing this challenge. IgnitionOne utilizes SPOT, which uses proprietary algorithms based on advanced statistical modeling technologies to accurately forecast keyword performance at varying spend levels. This can help marketers determine how aggressive bids should be based on goals and how to optimize spend by keyword to where it will receive maximum impact. By developing a technology solution which aims to provide insights at a level beyond what any new ‘search sabermetrics’ could provide, IgnitionOne can optimize keywords to achieve maximum performance at unprecedented scale.
Perhaps it is simply that I am like the other 3 million people or it is my exposure to Southern heritage (being based in Atlanta), but I am totally addicted to Discovery Channel’s Moonshiners.
The docudrama follows the activities of a group of Appalachian mountain men who produce and sell illegal moonshine. What is most intriguing to me is the ingenuity of these men as they develop their illegal stills from cobbled together components while hiding their enterprise from the “law.”
At first blush, the linkage is pretty disjointed. But closer examination shows them to be very similar to each other.
A still is nothing more than an extraction engine designed to efficiently create alcohol (C2H5OH) from natural ingredients. Along the way, these natural ingredients impart desirable flavors and properties that are valued by its consumers.
Likewise, a “Big Data” engine like the DMS is an extraction engine designed to efficiently create marketing “white lightning” from digital data. Along the way through all the transformations and manipulation, the basic ingredients (data) is refined and distilled into products that extract the maximum kick while still maintaining its consumption value. And white lightning for marketers won’t give you a buzz (or a hangover) but it will deliver better results and efficiency.
The Mash: GIGO (Garbage In, Garbage Out)
Beyond just the basic purpose of a distillation engine, the individual pieces of each machine also have direct relationships. While each moonshiner has his own personal recipes, the basic inputs to a still are grains/sugars, yeast and water, which are combined into a “mash”. Recipes vary during the year based on the price/availability of raw ingredients. The result is a balance between the strength of the mash (how much alcohol can be concentrated into the final mixture) and the potableness (suitability for drinking). A mash that is too “hot” (not able to be consumed, due to the burning feeling when consuming) is as undesirable as a mash that is too “cold” (no alcohol but is more potable). Balancing these competing properties is the art in the process that has been handed down through generations of shiners.
Likewise, within any Big Data marketing system, a multitude of different inputs are available to gain marketing insights and knowledge. Referral data, search engine data, onsite tracking, social data, CRM, demographics and a host of other data sources all contribute to the digital marketer’s mash. Some of these sources are easy to obtain and some are more difficult, but ultimately to be most useful to the final product, they must be combined into a single mash. Similarly, some data is very hot (contains great marketing insights and knowledge) but is very difficult to digest, while other data is too cold (and while consumable is ultimately not useful in action).
Additionally there is the question of scale. In a still, it takes a lot of mash to make even a little product. The same is true in Big Data Stills where low information value data may require large amounts of processing to enable the accumulation of enough insights. Extracting the maximum amount of information at the minimum cost enters into all Big Data Stills as well.
Mash Pot: Adding Heat to Create Pressure
During the fermentation process, the mash is transferred to the mash pot. Here it is exposed to heat which releases the alcohol from the mash in the form of steam. Pressure in the mash pot builds and is captured by the steam cap which is then used to propel the alcohol heavy steam through the rest of the distillation process. An improperly designed mash pot will leak steam and therefore not be able to propel the steam through the additional processing. Another more dangerous situation arises when the pressure is too great and the still explodes.
Big Data Stills have the same problems. Improperly designed data stores are unable to bring to the surface marketing insights in a timely fashion or may leak valuable information. Or Big Data stores will simply blow up due to scalability as the pressure and volume of the data mash and boiled up marketing insights are too great for the system to handle. Big Data marketing systems need to be carefully designed, flexible enough handle multiple set of inputs and built to scale.
There is another dangerous phenomenon that occurs in Big Data Stills as well as moonshine stills. During the fermentation process, a certain portion of the mash will be converted into methanol (C3OH). Methanol is a highly dangerous substance that has been known to cause blindness and even death. As a still heats up the mash releases this methanol (methanol boils at a lower temperature that alcohol), shiners call this the foreshot and discard this dangerous byproduct. This is very similar to Big Data Stills where the initial set of analysis (foreshot) from the data can be very disorienting and can blind marketers to the insights behind the data. Likewise, many times marketers overfit and/or over analyze the data mash which can lead to marketing paralysis or dangerous results.
From Steam to Hooch: The Rest of the Journey
Once the alcohol heavy steam has left the mash pot, it flows through a series of pipes and tubes. The first stop is the thump keg, which filters the impurities from the steam, which if allowed to continue through the process, will clog up the increasing smaller diameter piping that makes up the rest of the still. Filtering the haze of analysis to ensure that it is accurate, reliable and true is also necessary in a Big Data Still. Outliers, site outages, and data delays need to be removed so that they do not lead to erroneous results and/or excess pressure in the system. A common mistake among Big Data systems is ignoring the need to control for these impurities, and while it would appear that working with digital data is surprisingly clean, these cleansing functions are surprisingly complex.
As the now purified steam leaves the thump keg, it enters the worm box. Here cool water is circulated over coiled pipes known as the worm. A shiner’s worm is one of his most prized possessions (they have been known to be passed down in some West Virginia wills). Carefully crafted from hand selected copper, a superior worm imparts warmth to the final product by slowly condensing the vapor (and the flavors of the underlying mash) across the entire length of the pipe, thereby allowing the flavors and the raw alcohol to infuse into each other. The cold water condenses the alcohol vapor within the pipes which then emerges as final product for distribution. Without the constant supply of cold water, the alcohol vapor will simply shoot out of the end of the pipe without condensing, lost forever to the wind.
Within a Big Data marketing system, the worm is the interface system which exposes the marketing vapor to the cold water of analytics and experience. Some digital marketing systems are great at producing huge amounts of processed data (and vapor) but little of it is in form that is true marketing white lightning. It is only by the constant application of judgment, experience and analytic brainpower which is constantly changing and adapting within the machine itself that the final product is effectively delivered.
Result: White Lightning
By no means am I trying to romanticize the illegal production of moonshine; instead I am trying to focus the discussion around Big Data marketing systems to their core competency.
With all the talk about Big Data marketing systems, it is important to recognize that, in the end, they are nothing more than distillation machines. There is no need for huge data stores if the information content of the data is unusable, blinding or dangerous. Additionally, your Big Data marketing system needs to be designed and run by deep institutional knowledge about how the mechanics of the system are implemented, how to mix the data ingredients, and finally how to effectively present and deliver the actionable insights and marketing knowledge that the data presents. While I would like to think that we are slightly more refined, professional (and hopefully better looking) than our mountain men brothers, our goal is the same delivering the best white lightning for our clients. Cheers!
April marks the 2nd anniversary of the centralized marketing technology stack – IgnitionOne’s Digital Marketing Suite. Released in 2011, this first-of-its-kind SaaS marketing platform brings together media management and optimization, cross-channel attribution and analytics and web site optimization technologies in a single technology stack.
IgnitionOne has been at the center of innovation in digital marketing solutions and our teams have been responsible for many “firsts” that we are very proud of. In celebration of our anniversary, we want to look back at these innovations that stretch back over a decade.
Even before “Big Data” we were the first to introduce integrated user-level scoring, which is now a core part of our Engagement Scoring Engine and helps marketers deliver relevant, optimized content to users through advertising, site content, promotions and more. This score is a central piece of our Web Site Optimization and Marketing Automation solutions.
Always looking to drive intelligent bidding and improve results, we were the first to offer predictive portfolio optimization as an integrated part of our technology. Our predictive engine, SPOT®, improves marketers’ returns on ad spend by taking the guesswork out of budgeting.
Leveraging our centralized data to provide the most relevant messages, our Smart Remarketing was the first in the industry to optimize remarketing based on the deep user knowledge available through our scoring engine.
Back when we first introduced cross-channel attribution, there was not even a term for it. IgnitionOne led the industry by providing an innovative way to track media exposures across channels and de-duplicate and attribute credit to the efforts assisting towards a conversion. We take attribution further by integrating into our platform and leveraging the insights to automatically optimize media.
Digital marketing should not be handled in silos. That is why the Digital Marketing Suite is also the first to fully integrate a DSP with search in a single platform and still leads in our space as a fully integrated marketing technology stack. In addition to media optimization, the DMS is the only solution that also provides fully integrated Site Optimization and Marketing Automation functionality.
Marketers goals are not always as straight-forward as completing a sale. IgnitionOne was the first to introduce an Engagement Optimization offering which addressed a glaring need for measurability of digital advertising for brand marketers and allowed marketers to focus their media budgets on the advertising that creates the most visitor engagement.
Paid and earned media need to work together in social marketing, and that is why through best-of-breed partnerships, IgnitionOne offered the first integrated and automated innovation to automate and optimize Sponsored Stories based on social community activity levels.
IgnitionOne is not resting on our past accomplishments as we look to the future. We will continue to innovate and further expand our one-of-a-kind media optimization and marketing automation and help marketers meet the challenges they face today and tomorrow.